EDtv

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  • Directed By: Ron Howard
  • Written By: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
  • Release Date: March 26, 1999
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Martin Landau, Ellen DeGeneres

Box Office Info:
Budget: $55 millionFinanced by: Universal
Domestic Gross: $22,431,897Overseas Gross: $12,811,000


With the burgeoning presence of reality TV in the late 90s, EDtv‘s satirical premise of documenting a person’s daily life as a broadcast show who becomes an overnight celebrity — was completely upstaged and overshadowed by the deconstructed reality TV premise of The Truman Show (1998).  The budget for EDtv was $55 million and Universal fully financed.   In a quarter investor report from Universal’s parent Seagram Co., the dreadful box office performance of both EdTV and Virus mostly contributed to a huge $97M loss for Universal Studios’ film group.  Seagram’s Chief Executive Officer Edgar Bronfman, Jr singled out EDtv for posting so much red ink, that even with numerous potentially strong upcoming movies, they did not expect the company to reach profit for the rest of the year, stating: “The poor response to ‘EDtv’ materially diminished our outlook for the fourth quarter and the year… and it will be several quarters before our film business returns to profitability.”

Universal dated EDtv for March 26, 1999 and gave the movie a strong marketing push.  Universal was also very eager to keep Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s production company Imagine Entertainment in-house after their 5 year contract was set to expire in 2000 and as a sign of good faith the studio combined two Imagine movies — EDtv and Life into expensive 60 second Super Bowl spots.  Regardless of the exposure, the movie could not shake the comparisons as an inferior version of The Truman Show and it was not helped by unenthusiastic mixed reviews.

It bowed against The Mod Squad and Doug’s First Movie.  EDtv came in way below expectations with $8,311,290 — placing #3 for the weekend led by the holdover Forces Of Nature.  Universal expected the movie to leg out over the long run, but EDtv fell 46.5% to $4,446,390 the following frame and then sank 53.8% to $2,055,075 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with only $22,431,897.

The movie was a complete flop overseas as well, where it pulled in just $12.8M.  The worldwide total was $35.2M and Universal would see returned about $19.3M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving much of the global P&A expenses in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.

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